Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hindi Lesson 2

Attached is a photo taken at the street children project, as a teacher writes song lyrics in Hindi for students to memorize! A volunteer from Spain taught the song to the children, as the teacher wrote down the Hindi spelling for the sounds she heard in the lyrics of this Basque nursery rhyme!

Today I would like to discuss a bit more about the notation I will be using to teach some basic and useful Hindi to travelers or volunteers coming to India, before moving on to more helpful phrases in the language. In Hindi, we have several sounds which may be difficult to differentiate to a non-native speaker of the language. The first I will mention is an aspirate sound, or, the difference between "p" and "ph" in Hindi. A "p" sound is a soft sounding "ph," in the sense that when you vocalize the sound, there should be no puff or exaggerated exhale from the mouth (which may be noticed by keeping your palm close to your mouth when you speak the sound). For example, the exhale can be heard or felt with your hand when you say the word "pounce" ("phauns" in this system), whereas the normal "p" sound can be detected with the "p" in the word "lip." In Hindi, we have several of the aspirated consonants, so when you see a consonant followed by an "h," the sound is actually one consonant, with this exhale to execute the proper sound. One exception, for the consonants, is with an "s," as an "sh" will have the sound of an "sh" in English, as in "shun" (or "shan," in this phonetic system). Also, please remember that a "c" has the sound as in "choose," but a "ch" has an extra aspirated effect, as in the word "chase" (These are the best English words I could find that can be used to differentiate the sounds textually). 

There are also several different places where your tongue functions in Hindi, quite different from the way it does in English! When I write a "d" or a "t," these are sounds where the tip of the tongue should touch behind the top of the front most teeth on the upper jaw. The effect of the sound is similar to the sound in the word "the," but slightly off to a native speaker of Hindi, as the tongue goes beneath the teeth, rather than behind the top, where the teeth meet the gums. Also, there are corresponding "dh" and "th" sounds, which also require the tongue to move to the correct location, while adding an exhale to the sound. The best example, for an English word, which I could find was "th" in "thistle." An "r" sound in Hindi is a bit of a rolled sound, where the tip of the tongue slightly rolls backward while you make the sound (similar to how you roll the tongue when saying the "tt" sound in the word "latter," except the tongue should not touch the roof of the mouth).

Now let's move onto a couple of grammar concepts. To review what we learned, adjectives precede the nouns they modify, and the basic sentence structure is "Subject, Object, Verb." In Hindi, the nouns all have a gender, and the adjectives and verbs (usually) agree in the gender as well. For example, the sentence "The wait/delay was long" translates to "intezaar lambaa thaa" in Hindi: "intezaar," a masculine word, means "wait," "lambaa," which is inflected to correspond with the masculine gender of the noun intezaar, means "tall/long," and "thaa" is the word "was" in the masculine form. If we delineate the grammar of each individual word in the Hindi sentence and translate it to English, we see that it sounds like "wait long was," as the grammar is "subject, object [none in this sentence], verb." I hope this clarifies things a bit!

Let's compare this phrase with an identical phrase in meaning, but slightly altered phrase because of gender agreement. The masculine word "intezaar" has a feminine synonym, the word "prateekshaa." Intezaar is the word we use at home when we speak Hindi, and prateekshaa is a bit bookish sounding, but it is also an appropriate word, with a root closer to Sasnkrit, rather than an Urdu word, like intezaar. So, though we have two sentences, which have the same English translation because of the use of synonyms identical in meaning, the difference in gender affects each word in the sentence! Here is a comparison of the two sentences:

Original Sentence: "intezaar lambaa thaa"
New Sentence: "prateekshaa lambee thee"

Learning from the examples, usually words ending in the "aa" sound are masculine, though not always, because "prateekshaa" is one of the few feminine nouns that has a masculine-appearing ending: thus, "lambaa" and "thaa" correspond to the gender by having their masculine forms. Similarly, words ending in "ee" sound are usually feminine words, just like "lambee" and "thee" are the feminine forms of these words. Here is another example (I am using a Haryanvi word for boy/girl, as it is an acceptable word in Hindi to use, and I can't describe the Hindi word in this writing system until next lesson):

Masculine: "choraa patla hai"
Feminine: "choree patlee hai"

Before dissecting each word, strikingly we can see that the word "hai," meaning "is," is not a gendered word! Though in the past tense, "thaa/thee," in the present tense, this verb is the only verb in the present tense that does not change gender. Other verbs will require a lesson in verb conjugation to discuss, but we will keep our lessons to "is/was" lessons in the beginning to emphasize these other grammar concepts before reaching a more difficult topic. So, the word "choraa" means boy, and "choree" means girl. The words "patlaa" and "patlee" mean "thin," with their uses reserved for the corresponding gender of the noun which the adjective modifies. Reviewing, we see that the sentence resembles "boy/girl thin is," when we translate each word in order. Finally, as I tell you a new word from now on, if it can easily change in gender, like "lambaa/lambee" or "patlaa/patlee," then I will describe it as such: The word for "thin" is "patlaa/patlee." I hope you enjoyed a more insightful look at Hindi grammar for beginners!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Volunteers and Orphanage Children Visit Park!

Among the volunteers that are with us, and not traveling around India, several have been continuing their work at the volunteering projects! Here is a photo taken at a local Hindu temple, where some volunteers went to learn about Indian culture and Hindu traditions! Otherwise, our volunteers have been continuing their work in the medical projects, working with a pediatrician and helping the nurses in the nursery with taking care of the infants there; other medical volunteers have also been volunteering with the handicapped children this week, as they taught in their classrooms and with their therapy. The volunteers who have been working at our orphanage are going to take the children to the park, as they love visiting the locally famous destination! There is a restaurant at the park, where a generous supporter of our work has promised to subsidize any snacks or meals that the children would like to eat! Every time we go to the park, we are reminded by the generosity of the people in our local community who help support our dream of offering the children with us a simple concept: each of our children should feel like they are an essential part of our warm and loving family!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Orphanage Renovations Complete and Varanasi Trip!

We wanted to notify our readers that we have completed the renovations of the upstairs floor in our orphanage! The bathroom has been retiled and is now operational, and the caretaker's room on the second floor is also fit to be used! At the moment we don't have any pictures, but hopefully soon we can upload a few pictures so that we can share what it looks like! Though the entire floor is not complete, the rooms that are constructed now look great, and we just need to construct one bedroom; because of our limited funds, and because there is no urgent need for building the room at the moment, we have decided to wait until we are able to muster some funds so that we can properly build an appropriate bedroom, separate for the girls at our orphanage.

Also, we have finally finished signing up the children at our orphanage on a health insurance plan! Though we could not subsidize all of the children's plans and coverage, we felt that it was necessary to keep the children's health insurance covered on a plan, and we dipped into our own funds as well for the task. We are just extremely relieved about the health insurance coverage, as this was an important responsibility for us!

One of our main benefactors, who has been with us all of this month, will be ending her stay with us in a few days. With all of her help, donations, and time, we have bought the children all of the necessary clothes for the winter, finished the refurbishments of the home in the orphanage, purchased an essential cabinet in the orphanage to store winter clothes and blankets in the summer, along with other invaluable resources she has provided for us! We will surely miss her! At the moment, she went on a short vacation with another volunteer to Varanasi! Here is a picture from Varanasi, when our past volunteers had previously visited the city! Other volunteers have been ending their programs recently, as they had wanted to go home for the holidays! Which reminds me, we would like to wish everyone happy holidays, or "Mubaarak ho" in Hindi (literally, "congratulations")!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hindi Lesson 1

हिंदी - Hindi (in Hindi)

I wanted to dedicate a few blogs to teaching some useful Hindi phrases, so that anyone interested in traveling to India, especially North India, would have an easier time with the language barrier after learning a bit about the language and culture of the region! I will start with a few useful phrases and a brief look at grammar, but only the bare essentials of each for beginners!

Before we begin, I wanted to clarify the writing that I would use: English consonants get their pure sounds, with the exception of "c," which will have a soft "ch" sound like in the word "choose." The t's and d's used in this lesson are different from native English sounds: your tongue should touch the back of your teeth when you make these sounds (other t's and d's, similar to English t's and d's, will come up in another lesson, and I will address the notation then). A single "a" will have the sound as in "gum" or "come," which would be spelled as "gam" or "kam" in this phonetic manner I am utilizing. Two a's together, or "aa" will sound like the long "a" sound in "fall" or "gone" (spelled "faal" or "gaan" in this system). Finally, the only other point to make for this lesson about this writing system of Hindi using the English alphabet is that the vowel "ai" will act as one vowel sound, similar in sound to the vowel in the words "catch" ("kaic"), "fail" ("fail"), and "fan" ("fain"). Now, moving on to the phrases:

To say hello and goodbye in Hindi, the word is the same, and we say "namaste." There is another word, "namaskaar," that people use as well, which sounds a bit more formal, but is also very polite and has a nice ring to it. "namaskaar," like "namaste," also means both hello and goodbye.

We also have two words for thank you. "shukriya" is the word volunteers tend to prefer, as it is easier to pronounce and remember than "dhanyavaad," the other word for thank you. These words are synonyms, but they originally come from two separate languages etymologically: "shukriya" is an Urdu word, and "dhanyavaad" is a Sanskritic word, but both are equally accepted and used, depending on the location and reason for use. Some may say that "dhanyavaad" is a bit more formal, but it is typically more appropriate to use this word, rather than "shukriya," when in a Hindu context.

To say "My name is Kranti," we say "mera naam kraanti hai." The word "mera" means "my," and the adjective precedes the noun, as in English. "naam," to no surprise, means "name," and this is a masculine noun, as Hindi is a gendered language. As such, the adjective "mera" has a masculine inflection to match the gender of the noun it modifies, "naam." My name, of course, is Kranti, so this remains the same in both languages. Finally, the word "hai" means "is," and in Hindi, the main verb is always at the end of the sentence. So, the phrase "My name is Kranti" has the grammatical organization in Hindi of "My name Kranti is."

To ask someone "What is your name?" (referring to the person respectfully in a formal sense), we say "aapka naam kya hai?" in Hindi. "aapka," like "mera," is an adjective meaning "your," which corresponds in gender to the word "naam." The word "kya" means "what," as an interrogative, and interrogatives are always placed near the end of the sentence, just before the verb.

That should be enough to focus on for one lesson. In the next lesson, I think it would be good to focus on proper pronunciation, as best as I can describe with an English alphabet! I hope this has been helpful and interesting!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orphanage Film Part 2

And here is Part 2 of a version of the short film about our orphanage that we reformatted! We hope you enjoy the film!

Orphanage Film Part 1

Here is Part 1 of a version of the short film about our orphanage that we reformatted! We hope you enjoy the film!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Goodbyes and Orphanage Renovations

This week, one of our oldest volunteers, who has been with us for six months, and earlier for five months, has gone back home to the US after his long volunteering trip with Aim Abroad! He has spent a lot of time helping out at the orphanage, teaching the children English, Mathematics, other subjects, and even some written Hindi he picked up while here too! Everyday, he would tutor the children at the orphanage, spend time with them, and even take them to the park when he had the chance to do so. He also helped a lot of the volunteers, as he was learning basic Hindi during his time here, and was fluent in Spanish, so he helped translate for any volunteers from Spain who had limited English communication skills. He would frequently volunteer at the hospitals as well, and was very known to our group here in Delhi NCR! Even my family has welcomed him as a member of the family, and we attached another photo from the wedding, when a bunch of children at the wedding enjoyed speaking to him! All of us will really miss him while he's gone, but we will keep in touch, and we are certain to see him again when he decides to come back to India for more volunteer work! "Kaash ki ham ussey jaldi milein!" ("We hope that we will see him soon!" in Hindi)!

In other news, we have begun construction in our orphanage, for renovating the second floor! We hired a plumber and mason to work on the upstairs bathroom and upstairs caretakers' quarters, and the construction has been coming along nicely. If we can reach our financial goal, we expect to also construct a new room, so that we can separate the girls' quarters from the boys'. At the moment, there is no pressure to construct the room in the coming months; however, in about a year the new room will be compulsory, as our oldest girl will be reaching an age appropriate for a separate room for girls. As such, since we had the funds to renovate the existing rooms in the orphanage, we decided to touch up the rest of the floor, which will be nice for the orphanage when we do make use of the space for the girls at the orphanage. Let's see how we can reach our goal to upgrade the orphanage!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Indian Wedding in Haryana!

A few days ago, a pair of volunteers from the US went to a "Shaadi" (or "wedding" in Hindi) with me and my family in Rewari, Haryana!  The photo was taken with the bride and groom just moments after the wedding ceremony, during the reception! Overall, the wedding was a wonderful event, and the volunteers were welcomed as every other guest in the family! They were reluctant to dance to Bollywood music and other western dance songs even at first, but the children attending the wedding insisted that they dance, and they were so happy they did! Everyone enjoyed the evening, and the volunteers went back to their home in Delhi NCR in the evening afterwards. As we say in Haryanvi, "Ghanaa jeesa aa gya!" (Everyone had a blast!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Traveling in India!

Here are some more photos from Manish's birthday! Also, recently several of our volunteers have been traveling around India! A group of four volunteers went to Ram Nagar, nearby a tiger reserve, bird sanctuary, and elephant safari conglomerate, among other recreational areas, by the city Nainital. This morning, two volunteers from Europe went to Rajasthan to tour around Jaipur and Udaipur, two must-see tourist destinations in North India! Also, three of our volunteers went to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama will be giving lectures in his home town and temple! Though the volunteers will be unable to see the Dalai Lama, as they have not registered, it should be a spiritual experience for them to be in the same city as he is in at the same time! Two of our volunteers will be traveling to Agra either tomorrow or the next day to see the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal! We always encourage our volunteers to see the wonderful sites of India, as they are only here for a short time!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manish's Birthday and Gay Pride in India!

Two days ago was a very special day here in Delhi! It was Manish's fifth birthday, and perhaps his first birthday party ever! Two volunteers from the US bought him his birthday cake, balloons, the birthday present, and his birthday card to celebrate the occasion! On the evening of his birthday, my entire family, all of the children at the orphanage with the caretaker, three close family friends who frequently visit the orphanage, and four volunteers (one from Canada, one from Spain, and two from the US) all gathered for butterscotch cake and fun! The children loved playing with the balloons afterwards too, but made a mess on the floor! When the volunteers were getting ready to leave, they figured it would be best for the children to clean up the mess of popped balloons on the floor, so one volunteer, who had just learned the phrase "Saaf karo!" ("Clean up!" in Hindi), said the phrase for the first time, and she really impressed all of the children! At first the children, who did not see her say the phrase, all looked at her, dumbfounded, as if they were thinking "Did she really say that?" Then, she repeated the phrase, and in one minute, the entire home was clean! We were all amazed at the children's respect for our volunteers, especially the volunteers who come and spend much time with them! It was a very successful event, and we are looking forward to celebrating Rajat's birthday on January 31st!

In other news, two days ago, on Manish's birthday, it was also Delhi's annual Gay Pride Parade! The parade is usually held in the summer, but because of the excessive heat during this period, they shifted the date to the winter to expect more turnout at the event! Several volunteers expressed interest in going to the event, but decided in the end to stay in our region of Delhi to be with Manish on his important day! According to the papers, this was the most successful Gay Pride Parade in Delhi ever, with over a thousand participants! We are very happy to see that Delhi is becoming more and more welcoming of sexual minorities and equality for every person!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Orphanage Benefactor and Inspiration!

Before we begin about the news about our orphanage, here is a picture taken at Vrindavan on the Yamuna River, when our volunteer went with his family to visit the holy town. The volunteer, who drank a sip from the sacred river, did not know at the time that the water is said to be "Amrit" (a Hindi word which somewhat translates to "Panacea" or "elixir"). Though he drank the water about five days ago, he is still healthy with no stomach complaints! He is very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn so much about Hinduism and Indian culture in just a short day-trip.

Yesterday, our major benefactor and the person whose dream it was to begin the orphanage, from the US, and who inspired us to work on the project, donated a wonderful shoe rack for the children! She has been staying with us for about two weeks, and we have bought the children all new clothes and sweaters, winter quilts, frames and homely pictures for the home, and some funds for renovations of the home and hopefully a washing machine! The children have loved spending time with their "Didi" ("Older sister" in Hindi), and she has fallen in love with the children, seeing them and interacting with them each day since she has been with us. We are so thankful for all of her help, because without her monthly contributions and constant support, we couldn't have started this haven for our six children at the orphanage!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spanish Volunteers and New Orphanage Plans!

Yesterday another volunteer from Spain has arrived here in Delhi NCR to help the needy here! Before coming, she emailed another previous volunteer from Spain, who was recently with us, and she decided to join the program and make a difference with us! She is a nurse back home, in Vitoria Spain, and today she has gone to volunteer at the ambulance project, Help Age India, with another volunteer from the UK. Another volunteer from Spain, an acquaintance of hers, who is also a nurse, will be arriving to volunteer with her in just a few days as well!

Otherwise, one volunteer from Canada and another from the UK have gone to a nearby public school to teach the children English, play with the children in the nursery, and paint and color with several of the classes. The volunteers at the women's empowerment and street children programs have been enjoying their stay with their new host family and new project assignments. Also, we are interested in starting a new orphanage this month, if we are able to fund the project! We have very exciting and promising plans, and we will post more information as time passes. Here is a photo of five of the six children at our orphanage, as they got ready to go out to the park with the volunteers the other day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vrindavan and Volunteers

One of our volunteers from the US went with his family to a very special city, Vrindavan, for a day!  This city is especially famous for the Hare Krishna movement, and many foreigners live in this city! It lies only about two hours from Delhi NCR, so they left early in the morning and came back in the evening. He describes the city as an extremely spiritual place, as he went to "Bankey Bihari Mandir" ("Bankey Bihari," a name for Lord Krishna, "Temple" in Hindi), Iskcon Temple, and the Yamuna River in particular. At Bankey Bihari Mandir, our host prayed in what we know as "God's home," the place where Lord Krishna used to play when he was a child; he even went up to the sanctuary in the temple for blessings and prayers. After eating some "Prashad" (offering to God after prayers) and receiving the "Teeka" (the symbol on the forehead after prayers), he exited the temple with his family and they enjoyed the very famous "Lassi" (yogurt shake) from Vrindavan out of the special clay glasses which are unique to Vrindavan. Then, the family went to the Iskcon Temple, where they prayed and observed beautiful paintings and prayed to Radha-Krishna. Finally, for a scenic view of the city, the family went on a small boat on the Yamuna, where they learned more about the city and even tasted the holy water from the Yamuna. The volunteer had a fantastic experience with his family, and he is sure to go back to visit the city another day! The first picture is of the Bankey Bihari Temple from outside, and the second was taken on the Yamuna River.

In other news, the orphanage, children, and other volunteers have been doing very well! Yesterday morning, one volunteer from the US, another from Canada, and two from England went to Town Park, in Delhi NCR, with all of the children for a nice picnic. In the afternoon, they enjoyed some toast and chai with their host family, and in the evening the volunteers went to the movies to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," about which they gave great reviews! Today, after helping the children get ready for school, one volunteer, a nurse back home, went to a government hospital to observe surgeries and assist with injections. Two other volunteers have gone to a public school in the neighborhood to teach the children and play with them, while another volunteer has gone to central Delhi for the afternoon. Though one of our volunteers from Australia has gone back home, the other four are continuing their project at the disabled children's school today, and this evening they will go to a different project to experience the women's empowerment program while also volunteering with slum children.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Id Mubarak and Hindu Ceremony!

We would like to wish everyone a "Bakra Id Mubarak" (Happy Bakra Id)! This holiday, a national holiday in India, is celebrated amongst Muslims, as they observe this day with goat for dinner. Yesterday, the group of volunteers from Australia, two volunteers from the US, and one volunteer from the UK went to an orphanage, which particularly specializes in "Sanyasi" (giving up the material world for introspection), so that the volunteers could observe meditation and a Hindu religious ceremony, called a "Pooja," which the women at the orphanage hold twice a day, every day. The pooja lasted for two hours, and the foreigners were involved in the ceremony, as they received some "parsad" (offering to God) and participated in the prayers and chanting. After the pooja finished, the girls at the orphanage (ranging from ages 5 to 16) interacted with the volunteers, as each were eager to speak to one another. One girl in particular, Maneesha (14 years old), is very clever, and she is able to communicate almost fluently in English, as well as Hindi, Bengali, and Haryanvi. She, and a few others who could communicate in both Hindi and English, interpreted for the volunteers and the other children, and everyone had a pleasant experience. Here is a picture of them in the sanctuary at the orphanage!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Volunteers Begin Indian Culture Classes

Hindi classes began yesterday for a group of five volunteers with us, visiting from Australia! Three of the girls are family, and they have been traveling together in Nepal; the other two girls, who are friends of the three family members, have also come together for traveling, but had stayed in India to visit Amritsar, to see the Golden Temple, and Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj, famous for one of its residents, the Dalai Lama. Yesterday, the volunteers focused on their Hindi classes with our Hindi teacher, as he taught about Indian culture and about some of the local languages and dialects. This teacher gave some information to the volunteers about the language spoken where I grew up, in rural Haryana also: This language, Haryanvi, is very similar to Hindi, but has a very harsh accent with a slightly different vocabulary. To give an example, in Hindi, when we say "Kya kar raha hai?" (What are you doing), in Haryanvi, we say "Kye kar reeya sai?" Though Haryanvi is a similar, yet distinct, language, the people in this region all speak Hindi, and almost anyone who grows up in Haryana can understand Hindi, because of its similarity to Haryanvi and its practicality as a spoken language. We find that many volunteers enjoy learning about the different cultures and people from different regions in India, and they particularly appreciate soaking up the details of our society here in Haryana and India. After the language classes finished, the volunteers ate some traditional Indian "samosas" (a pastry filled with spiced vegetables) with some "hari chutney" ("green sauce," or more specifically, coriander sauce/chutney), which everyone enjoyed. Afterwards, we introduced the volunteers to the cook at the orphanage where they have been staying, and he showed them how to make "roti" (or in English, we say "chapati"), which they enjoyed with "chaaval" (rice) and "daal" (lentils). We are looking forward to continuing their Hindi language classes and offer some sightseeing of the neighborhood in Delhi NCR! Also, we should have a very special blog post coming up, with a display of a video about our orphanage! One volunteer, from Barcelona, came, shot, and edited an entire documentary in just one week! When we finish reformatting the film, we will try to post it on the blog in the coming days! Here is a photo of Rajat, one of the children at the orphanage, holding the volunteer's camera at his home, as Rajat is shooting some of the video himself too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sponsored Health Insurance

In the photo, you see Eli, from Barcelona, at the local park with Muskan and Sonu, two of the children we now look after! Yesterday, two of our volunteers from the US went to the orphanage and played with the children in the morning, and helped them with their studies and work for school in the afternoon and evening! We also received a very special visit from one of our benefactors, who helped place two of our orphans into our orphanage here in Delhi NCR: She was aware of these two children, Anish and Manish, who were living in what appeared to be forced labor, and she was able to rescue these children and settle them into the home with us. Yesterday, she came to visit the children, and she donated 10 kgs of rice, 10 kgs of "aata" ("whole wheat flour" in Hindi), some biscuits, and some chips for the children. Afterwards, she also decided to sponsor the Anish and Manish's health insurance for one year, for which we are extremely grateful. We would like to be able to offer each child health insurance, but we are unable to subsidize the funds, so we are constantly looking for new benefactors and contributors. If you are interested in helping us in our cause, please contact me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snake Charmer and Helpful Volunteers

One of the volunteers from Miami, who has been with us for five months, went with my daughter today for a parent and teacher conference: The volunteers very frequently become very attached to my family, as we welcome everyone as a member of our family, and the volunteer and my daughter had a nice day this morning together. The volunteer has been helping out at our orphanage, and he has really been connecting with the children and helping us with all of his volunteer work! We are always so grateful to have such wonderful volunteers come from around the world and help us with our mission to help the less fortunate. Tonight, another volunteer from the US, who frequently comes to India to support our social programs, will be arriving. We are very excited to see her after so many months, and we look forward to her meeting the children at the orphanage, which she helped us start. Other volunteers have been continuing their volunteering projects elsewhere, and many volunteers are taking the opportunity of the weekend to travel: Some volunteers will be in central Delhi, while others are going to Varanasi before heading to Goa. A group of other volunteers are currently in Jaipur as well. By Monday, most of the volunteers will be back from their travels to continue their work at the plethora of volunteering projects we have here. We look forward to hearing about each volunteer's trip! Also, here is a photo taken in central Delhi when some volunteers went to a restaurant and saw a snake charmer outside of the restaurant!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Manish Needs our Help!

In dedication to Children's Day, which we celebrate here in India on Sunday, we would like to talk about a very special child here at our orphanage. Manish has had a difficult time adjusting to his new life with us here, but he has made some amazing improvements since he first came a few months ago. He is the youngest of two, and they come from a state called Orissa, where Oriya, quite different from Hindi, is spoken. When he came to the orphanage, his elder brother, Anish, had picked up some more Hindi than Manish did, and he adjusted very well from the beginning. But Manish, just about four or five years old, could not communicate with anyone, as nobody understood Oriya. On top of his frustration with no one being able to properly communicate with him, Manish shows signs of hyperactivity and lacks concentration. When any of the other children take a crayon away from him, or slightly bother him, he becomes infuriated and is quite difficult to calm down. With the language barrier we all have with Manish, it only makes him more frustrated that when people try to calm him down he doesn't understand what they say, and that we cannot understand his language. After getting used to his nature, we have all adjusted ourselves gradually to find ways to keep him happy, yet setting boundaries as well. He has become very well-behaved, and is slowly picking up the language, as he is able to communicate one-word fragments in Hindi, which we manage to understand. His understanding of the language has immensely improved, as he is around other children and parents who are only speaking in Hindi, rather than in Oriya. I wanted to write about Manish today because I feel that there is so much more that we can do for him. Here in India we do not have many people who specialize in behavioral disorders such as ADHD, if he even does display such type of behavior, or the few that we have are far too expensive for us to offer him. I am writing this blog to reach out to anyone who has, or knows anyone who has, any specialty in working with or teaching hyperactive children, as we really want to learn about how to best help Manish with his difficulties. You are welcome to come and volunteer with us, as Manish really needs all of our support. Thank you, and I wish everyone a Happy Children's Day from us at Aim Abroad!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hospital Volunteering

Our volunteers have been continuing with their variety of social work programs here in Delhi NCR. Early in the morning, two of our medical volunteers went to work in a government hospital in India to assist in surgeries, distribute medicine, and learn about the health care system here in India, especially for the patients in poverty who cannot afford to visit private hospitals. Other volunteers have been continuing working with the women's empowerment programs, helping at orphanages, and teaching at the slum schools. In the photo, you can see María José walking the children from our orphanage to school: She and the children went together with her friend from Spain, Elisabet, who took the photo! Finally, several of the volunteers are planning to visit Jaipur this weekend too: it's always nice to see when the volunteers can balance their travels abroad with their volunteer work in reaching out to the needy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Current Volunteering Projects

Today the volunteers from Aim Abroad have gone to several different projects: A few of our volunteers are staying at an all-girls' orphanage in Delhi NCR, where they have been helping running the orphanage by learning to cook Indian food and lending a hand in the kitchen and by helping the children with their chores in the orphanage. Another pair of volunteers is at a slum-school project, where they teach the children English communication and grammar, basic computing, and elementary mathematics. Four other foreigners here in Delhi NCR are helping out at a women's empowerment program, where they interact with rural women and help them with English communication and arithmetic skills, useful for their profession of creating materials for sale and awareness. Three other volunteers have been in a different women's empowerment program as well, where they have been participating in similar activities as in the other project. In the meantime, two volunteers have gone to Jaipur to finish their Golden Triangle tour. One volunteer from the US has been consistently volunteering at one of the nearby orphanages, where he has been ensuring that each child finishes homework ahead of time, so that the children can go to the park and play before dark. I have attached a photo from when one of our volunteers, Silvia (from Spain), donated to the children new pencils and pens, since they were short on supply. You can see the difference!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Diwali!

Happy Diwali, or "Shubh Deepawali!" I was unable to post this week because of the festivities here in India, but we had a very nice holiday here in Delhi NCR. Some volunteers, two from Barcelona, one from Japan, another from the UK, two from Canada, and two from the US spent their Diwali with my family, in-laws, and parents. We all participated in the Pooja (Hindi word for "prayer") ceremony, which my father-in-law led, at our home. We all enjoyed a nice evening, filled with fireworks and delicious Diwali treats. Other volunteers went to central Delhi to observe the fireworks and celebrations from India Gate, whereas most other volunteers stayed with their host families for the holiday and a few others went traveling for the festival. Yesterday, some volunteers finished up their Hindi language and culture classes, and they went to see a new Bollywood movie, Action Replayy. Today, many of the volunteers are going to Agra for a day, while others will be participating in today's holiday, Bhaidooj (the last day of Diwali): This festival is celebrated amongst brothers and sisters, and we place a "teeka" (vermilion dot on the forehead after a prayer)  and a "moli" (red string tied around the wrist) on our brothers for protection. We wish everyone a Bhaidooj kee shubhkaamnayein! ("Happy Bhaidooj" in Hindi!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Children Play in Park and Diwali Approaches

Yesterday one of our volunteers from the US and another from Barcelona took the children from the orphanage to a local park in the morning for a few hours. The children were ecstatic to be with the volunteers and venture into the large park, where they played on swings, monkey bars, slides, and even rides! here are some photos of the children while they were enjoying their day in the park!

Today the volunteers walked the children to school, as it is their last day of school this week because of the festival of Diwali! During this holiday, nearly everyone in Delhi NCR, where we are, will celebrate the holiday with massive fireworks all throughout the night! We will celebrate the holiday with the volunteers, family, and orphans, by having a Pooja ceremony (the Hindi word for "prayer" or "worship") together, and then celebrating by lighting the Diya and fireworks. We have even decorated our homes with lights, just like Christmas lights, to prepare for the holiday. We are really looking forward to spending this holiday together!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Volunteers Motivate the Children!

The two volunteers from Barcelona, María José and Eli, finished their poster project for the orphanage! On a poster, they wrote a few rules, disguised as good habits for hygiene and cleanliness, in an interesting and creative way to attract the children! They wrote these rules in English and Hindi (tracing the Hindi that I wrote on the poster for them in pencil), so that the children can understand the rules, and even learn English from the poster when they get older! The rules translated into English also help the volunteers familiarize themselves with the rules and routine of the orphanage. María José and Eli also created a poster with a picture of each child, to help any new volunteers get to know the children, and to show the children how special each one of them is. When the children saw the posters with their photos, they were all enraptured to see how much we all cared about each of these special children. The children also helped mount the posters to the wall, and they were even helping some new volunteers this morning by showing them their routines on the poster! Shyann, one of our volunteers, with María José and Eli, also created some advice for the volunteers to keep in the volunteers' room for helping the orphanage and the children. We will never forget all of the help that these volunteers have given us! Last night, the orphans were very sad to see the volunteers leave, but they were more happy to have spent their time with them, and we will be organizing Skype meetings between them and the volunteers, along with keeping in touch my emails. The volunteers, on their way out, promised to all of the children that they will be back next year, and for even longer than this trip!

This morning, the rest of our volunteers went to the park with the children from the orphanage for some exercises. They helped the children shower when they returned, made sure that each child ate their breakfast, and finally went back to the host family home for lunch. The children don't seem to be too upset that the other volunteers left, though they do miss their good friends from Barcelona and the US. They have the comfort of each other, their caretakers, and the current volunteers with us.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Teaching English in Delhi NCR and Diwali Preparations

Last night was one of our volunteer's final night with us, after a one-week stay at the volunteering program here in Delhi NCR. The children at the orphanage were sad to see her go, but this volunteer has really helped move things in a positive direction for the children, and they will never forget the impact that she has made here, in such little time! We are certain we will see her here again volunteering with us! Here is a photo of one of the two cupboards that she donated, as it is all settled in the orphanage now!

This morning, three volunteers went to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple for the weekend, as our two volunteers from Barcelona stayed back to help out at the orphanage on their last day with us. They went at 7:00AM to the orphanage, to take the children to the park and exercise with the children. After exercising and having breakfasts, our newest volunteer, also from Barcelona, with another volunteer, from the US, went to the orphanage to teach the children English homework. The smallest children practiced writing the alphabet, mostly only uppercase letters, and one child, who is a bit older, practiced dictation, writing words that the volunteer reads aloud (like "Book, look, took, rice, nice, fight, light, log, hot, mop," etc.). After finishing their work, the children enjoyed a snack, and began to color some "Looney Tunes" coloring book pages, which the children loved! Two of the eldest children, Rajat and Muskan, were painting their "Diya" for Diwali! These clay "Diya," or lamps, are decorated to celebrate the return of Lord Ram to his home in Ayodhya, after having defeated Ravan, the symbol of evil in Hinduism. When the Diya are ready we will post some pictures!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Orphanage Project

Here is a photo taken yesterday morning, as the children had gotten ready for school and the volunteers were ready to walk with the children to school. The volunteers wake up around 6AM every morning to help wake up the children, have breakfast with them, and get them ready for school. After walking with the children to school, they come back to the host family to spend time with the family and then rest. In the afternoon, they pick up the children from classes, and take them to the park to play around and exercise. Then, when they return from the park, they separately finish their homework, with the volunteers' help whenever they wish. The oldest child, Rajat (second row, second child from the left), really loves one of our volunteers from the US, and he has dedicated the rest of his time here to spending time with Rajat, as he desperately seeks good male role models, like my husband and this volunteer. Yesterday he spent a few hours with Rajat practicing English and dictations, which immediately excited Rajat and made him enthusiastic about wanting to study! Today he will spend a lot of time with Rajat as well, from 4PM, to continue his studies and spend time with him.

The other volunteers, especially those from the US, Canada, and from Barcelona, have taken an interest in creating a few posters for the orphanage. They have spent the entire evening writing meticulous descriptions of each child, to help the volunteers get to know the children, along with descriptive details for the children's chores and the volunteers' responsibilities. They have worked on the text for these posters in both English and Spanish, to help the volunteers who come from many different countries. They have also made a list of rules, written in both English and Hindi, that will help the children gain more discipline and practice their English understanding as well. Today they will complete the posters, and hopefully they will be able to put them in the orphanage today! As soon as they are ready I will take the pictures and post them here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Delhi Sightseeing

Here is a picture from a volunteer's trip to Shimla!

The volunteers went to the major shopping district in Delhi yesterday after having worked at the orphanage! The volunteers were washing all of the children's hair with medical shampoo, as one of the children had lice. It was nice to see that the volunteers were very dedicated to helping the children, and they are maintaining strict hygiene habits to ensure that the lice doesn't spread or come back to the children. Afterwards, the four volunteers (two from Barcelona and two from the US) went to see the famous Lotus Temple in Delhi, which they all really enjoyed. They then enjoyed a delicious North Indian restaurant nearby India Gate. The foreigners then went to Connaught Place, where one volunteer bought a beautiful emerald bracelet and two pearl necklaces, in the underground Palika Bazar. After finishing their shopping in the bazar, they resurfaced to reach the famous Janpath Market in Connaught Place, where they spent three hours in one Kashmiri Store! The volunteers bought many pashminas, mostly for gifts, and learned a lot about the tricks of the trade in the Kashmiri goods' industry. Finally, the volunteers had some comical encounters with the local people selling goods on the street: One volunteer bought two runners from, what seemed to be the same shop, but in reality the shop had two different owners, and the volunteer had accidentally purchased an item from the wrong vendor! Later, as the volunteers were walking away, the true vendor asked them to go back to the shop, where they finally settled the confusion and mix-up with the other store owner. They described that the local people were not upset, as they understood that accidents can happen. Later, one of the volunteers decided that she would like to have another bag, so that she could have more space to store her things while she is traveling around India. The four of them found a man who sells such bags, and he showed them a bag, with wheels, that was also a backpack, and also a sport bag, even with a lock on it! His starting price was fairly high (950 Rupees), but the interested shopper was thinking to purchase it. The shopkeeper thought he would make a great deal, so he started putting everyone's shopping bags, with newly bought pashminas in them, inside of the bag that he wanted to sell. When the volunteer noticed how heavy the bag was getting, she decided that she didn't even want a bag, because then she would have to lug the bag with her everywhere, and it would tempt her to buy more souvenirs than she needs. As they were walking away, he was shouting at them to buy it for 600 Rupees: Now, the volunteer thought, "No, it's still too expensive, and I don't even want the bag!" Well, the shopkeeper saw them walking away, chased after them, and pleaded to them to buy the bag at a price of 300 Rupees! Now, the volunteers were getting pretty annoyed, and even some local people were trying to tell the guy to drop the matter. Finally, one of the volunteers, who speaks Hindi, explained to the guy that it was not an issue about money, she just didn't have any interest in having the bag at all. As he was walking away, the shopkeeper grabbed his arm forcefully, and begged that she buy the bag for 250 Rupees. Aggravated with the shopkeeper, the volunteer explained that even if the bag were free she wouldn't take it! The shopkeeper must not have believed him, because now he said, "Ask her, if it is free, will she take it?" So, the volunteer, chuckling, asked her if she wanted the bag for free from afar. She gave a very loud response of "NO!" and frowned at the shopkeeper, who was flabbergasted that she truly wouldn't even take the bag for free! Finally, he must have gotten the point, and he left. The volunteers came home later, told me and my husband the story, and one of them said "If anyone ever needs a bag I know where I can get them a free one!" and we all burst into laughter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cows in Haryana and Volunteers Plans

Here is another picture from Jhajjar, in Haryana, when one of our volunteers went with his host family to visit extended family in Jhajjar. The picture was taken at Gurukul, where there is a cow shed. Each cow produces between twenty to forty liters of milk each day!

Last night the volunteers in one host family home enjoyed a nice Karva Chauth, with a traditional Hindu Pooja (prayer ceremony) to conclude the fast and holiday. At the orphanage, the children have been doing very well, and they enjoyed watching  the Disney movie,"The Aristocats" on TV, in Hindi, along with a new Bollywood film, Dabangg, which recently premiered in theaters in India. Today, the volunteers awoke early and helped the children with their chores. After making breakfast, the volunteers walked the children to school, and came back to discuss with the host family ways to improve the orphanage. Today the volunteers decided that they will work on some rules for the orphanage to help maintain as routine a schedule for the children as possible. They will get a large poster, markers, and decorations to design these rules in a kid-friendly approach, so that they can associate the rules with things that they enjoy, such as attractive colors or entertaining designs. The rules will be written in both English and Hindi as well, which should be interesting for the volunteers to learn how to say new phrases in Hindi too! Since the children are in school now, the volunteers are on their way to the major shopping district in Delhi, as it is one of their last days here in India. Hopefully they will make some great purchases and find some great sales during the holiday season, especially as Diwali approaches!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Karva Chauth Holiday and Traveling in Rural Haryana

We have a new addition to our orphanage as of last night! This child, Sonu, has adjusted instantly to the orphanage, quickly established relationships with the other children, and has even begun his first day of classes today without any breaks in routine as if he had been living in the orphanage for several months or years! His mother had passed away several years ago, and his father is terminally ill with Tuberculosis, so we have given him the best we can offer as a new resident in our home. We are very thrilled to be able to offer such an opportunity to a truly needy individual!

In the photo above, one of the volunteers visited a small town in Haryana called Jhajjar. He went with his host family to visit family in Jhajjar, and they went together to Gurukul, a place where students learn Hindi, Sanskrit, and about Hinduism, almost completely distant and separate from the rest of civilization. The first picture is at the students' meditation area, and the second picture was taken as the children were washing their clothes outside. The volunteer really enjoyed his trip with the host family and visiting a new city in Haryana!

Today, the volunteers are celebrating the holiday of Karva Chauth! Some volunteers will be going to Hindu temples in Delhi NCR with their host families, while others will spend the day with the host families to observe the traditions that they will observe this evening. The holiday celebrates marriage, and married women observe a fast from the morning upon seeing the moon, when the husband feeds his wife her first morsel of food for the day. This Hindu holiday honors the sacred bond of marriage and demonstrates the dedication that family members have for one another. We would like to wish all married women around the world a "Karva Chauth kee Shubhkaamnayein," or Happy Karva Chauth!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Donations to the Orphanage in Delhi NCR!

Yesterday, one of our special guests had decided to purchase some cupboards for the children in the orphanage! Her donation was really thoughtful and generous, and the children were extremely happy to start organizing their personal things in their first private area for themselves! In the photo, you can see our volunteer Shyann, in both photos, with the cupboards she donated to the orphanage and some of her new friends, the other volunteers! While the children were at the nearby park, where they were on Ferris Wheel rides, the cupboards were delivered to their home. The children came back from a wonderful Sunday evening in the park, filled with snacks, a full course dinner, and some ice cream, only to return home to the surprise of the new cupboards in the home! Our orphanage is looking more and more like a cozy home, and we can see that the quality of the children's routine lives is not being compromised, though they are orphaned children.

Today, three of our medical volunteers went to a local general hospital in Delhi NCR, which focuses on pediatrics and gynecology. Two of our volunteers from Barcelona, who are trained nurses, have gone to another hospital, which specializes in surgical procedures and gynecology: They have given the host family and doctors at the hospital advice for improving the quality of care they provide to their patients, and they are constantly planning ways to offer their services or any extra supplies to these hospitals in need. Another volunteer, who also happens to be a trained nurse from the UK, went to a charitable hospital, where she will assist the hospital, since they have an overwhelming number of patients and few health care providers who work for this charity. Other volunteers have gone to street children projects to teach children English and Computing. The projects have been running very smoothly and have greatly been benefitting from the help of the volunteers!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

About our Orphanage

In the photo, my daughter (left) is with one of the orphans, Muskan (right).

I wanted to thank the current volunteers who have been here, during this pivotal time for Aim Abroad. The volunteers have been extremely helpful at our orphanage, making sure the children are in great hands and teaching them with dedication. We can see that the children are learning much more English, and have been establishing healthier relationships amongst each other and with adult figures as well. Our volunteers have been cooking, cleaning, helping the children with all of their chores, taking them to school each day, playing with them in the parks, and even taking out the children for excursions. When we see volunteers with such commitment such as Elisabeth, María José, Silvia, Elisabeth (all from Barcelona), and Shyann (from the US), it really inspires the children to make something really special out of their lives and overcome their unfortunate circumstances. I am very proud to be involved in this cause of helping the needy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Haryana Games in Delhi NCR!

Here is a photo from our fiesta, that we celebrated a few days ago! Two of the girls from Spain had gone traveling to Amritsar, and the other two girls, who are nurses from Barcelona, went to Agra this morning. In the evening, the volunteers in Agra will travel to Jaipur, where they will meet with their new friends, the other two volunteers from Spain who went to Amritsar! In other news, one of our new volunteers from the US has gone to the charitable school in Delhi NCR to teach the children English. She awoke early in the morning and helped the children at an orphanage get ready for school in the morning. After teaching the children at the school, she will go back to the host family home and help the children at the orphanage when they return from school. We also have an exciting event occurring in our area of Delhi NCR! The Haryana Games are being hosted in this community: there will be plenty of athletes from all of Haryana competing in these games, some of whom may be considered for representing India in the approaching Asia Games and Olympics in 2012. We are very proud of our athletes from the state of Haryana, and we wish them the best of luck in their efforts! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

About our Fiesta and the Volunteering Projects

Yesterday our fiesta was a success! The four girls from Spain prepared a "tortilla," or Spanish omelette, and a Spanish salad with mixed vegetables, vinegar, and olive oil. The girls also brought butterscotch and chocolate ice cream for everyone, and the children enjoyed trying some international cuisine, along with the host family and other volunteers! The volunteers went to the mall afterwards, after taking their first rickshaw ride in India: They were interested in the adventure and had an enjoyable time searching for a cheap and fair rickshaw, which they did eventually find! In the evening, the host family and the volunteers enjoyed a large batch of momos (similar to what volunteers call "dumplings" in the West). Today, they will enjoy a Bollywood film and then they will head out to central Delhi, where two will depart for Amritsar and continue with their travels around India, and the other two will enjoy the sights and shop in the tourism sector of Delhi. Other volunteers, two from England and one from Australia, have gone to volunteer in hospitals around Delhi NCR: Three are volunteering in the pediatric hospital, where they will spend time in the nursery with the infants and in the Out-Patient Department. Another volunteer, from the US, has gone to a hospital that specializes in gynecology and pediatrics: She has been offered the opportunity to assist with deliveries and other surgeries at the hospital, so we are optimistic that she will have a memorable experience. Finally, I have added two more pictures from one of the volunteer's expeditions in Shimla and Solan: This was the view from nearby his hotel!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Snake's Closeup and Spanish Volunteers Currently with us!

I have posted another photo from the volunteer's encounter with a friendly, and trained, snake up in Shimla! His friend was holding the snake's head in his palm! Also, the other picture is a view from the top of the mountain in the Himalayas nearby where the volunteer saw the snake! In other news, two volunteers from Barcelona, both qualified nurses, have gone to a hospital in Delhi NCR where they will observe a lacroscopic hernia surgery, and, if there is time, they will also observe a spinal surgery in the afternoon. Afterwards, they have plans to prepare some traditional Spanish dishes for a mini-"fiesta", with two other volunteers from Spain, for their host family, who is very excited to try the international cuisine! After lunch, the four girls will go to see a Bollywood film, Anjaana Anjaani ("Strangers"), at a local theater. The two other girls from Spain woke up early in the morning to go to an orphanage and help the children with their chores and to spend time with the children before school begins. They have been helping at the orphanage every day this week, and we will really miss having them here with us, as they will leave tomorrow afternoon to travel around India before heading to Madrid.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More of Shimla and the Commonwealth Games Results!

Before beginning today, I wanted to post another picture from our volunteers' travel in Shimla! The photo was taken in Solan, where he booked the hotel. This was the view from the bedroom in the hotel. This morning, volunteers have gone to medical projects, orphanage projects, and four from Spain have left to visit central Delhi for sightseeing at Redfort, Chandni Chowk, Jamma Masjid, Connaught Place, India Gate, and Raj Ghat, and they will return back to the host family this evening.

Today, I would like to comment on the Commonwealth Games, because this has had such a huge impact on our city here in Delhi NCR. The games went very well after the city made many efforts to make the preparations for the games necessary. The infrastructure has greatly improved, as the metro is expanding to other areas in Delhi NCR to reach suburbs of Delhi that were only accessible by roads earlier. Many of our volunteers went to watch the Commonwealth Games as well, and it was interesting to hear their feedback about being a part of such a major event and milestone occasion. India came in second place, with 38 gold medals, and we are very proud to be Indian during this important function and the holiday season here in India. "Jai Hind!" (Long live India!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Volunteer work in Delhi and Festival Season in India!

Our volunteers with Aim Abroad have gone to a variety of projects this morning! Two of our volunteers from Spain woke up early to help the children at an orphanage with all of their chores and to get ready for school. They learned how to cook traditional Indian meals with the caretaker at the orphanage, and enjoyed the meal shortly afterwards. The girls came back to the host family home for a short break, and will head back to the orphanage once the children return home from school. Two other volunteers from Spain, who are nurses in Barcelona, have gone to a local hospital in Delhi NCR, where they will assist the hospital in any manner possible, and possibly observe some surgeries today too, with another volunteer from the US. Three other volunteers, one from Denmark, one from Canada, and one from the US, went to a school for street children, which is located within a slum area, where the volunteers will focus on teaching English and Math to the children. Finally, another volunteer from Canada went to an all-girls' orphanage, where she will play with the children and help improve their communication. Here in the photos, one volunteer went with the orphans to observe the festival of Dusserha, where an effigy of Ravan (built by neighborhood children!) was burned! All of the children were very excited, and truly had a special evening with the volunteer and each other! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Festival Season in India with Volunteers!

Aim Abroad would like to wish everyone a "Dussehra kee shubhkamnaayein" on this special day! The volunteers in one host family home have woken up and showered early for a special pooja (prayer service) for this holiday, during which we remember that on this day Lord Ram killed Ravan, who represents all evil in Hinduism. The event will be followed by traditional customs that are practiced on this day, and in the evening the volunteers will observe a unique event in which the death of Ravan is recreated in many places all around India today! Here is a picture taken at the event when four medical volunteers observed the holiday last year! At first, the effigies of Ravan, his brother Kumbhkarna, and his son Meghnad are built; at sundown, the reenactment of their deaths is shown, as Ram pierces Ravan with an arrow, and the effigies are burnt to signify their deaths. It is always entertaining for the volunteers to observe this custom each Dussehra!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Volunteering and Travels to Shimla

This week at Aim Abroad the projects have been going very well! One volunteer, from the US, came with funds that she had raised for donations to the volunteering projects! She went this week with one of the teachers from the school to purchase book-bags for each child at the school (there are about 250 children who study at this school). Other volunteers have been going to the school for disabled children, where they have been spending time with these children during the festival season of Navratra. Two other volunteers have been visiting an all-girls' orphanage during this festival season as well, where they have been spending time playing with the children and helping them with their English communication. Another pair of volunteers has been volunteering at a local hospital here in Delhi NCR, where they have been learning from a gynecologist and a pediatrician in particular, along with other practices in the hospital. One of our volunteers from the US, who has been here since June, had gone to visit Shimla for a short vacation, with a very close friend. He had a wonderful stay in the Himalayas, and he has given us some photos to post on the blog! Here is a photo taken at Kufri, a popular tourist destination in Shimla.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fir Milenge, or "See you later" in Hindi!

Just a few hours ago, one of our volunteers have left after her three-week volunteer work with Aim Abroad. She was very sad to leave this country, her new family, and all of the volunteers that she met, that she was crying on her way to the airport. The other volunteers went with her to the airport to spend time with her, as they grew very close during her volunteering period with them. It is always very sad for us to say goodbye as well, so instead we always say "Fir milenge" (we'll meet again)!

Otherwise, today a few volunteers went to a school for disabled children, where they spent time with the orphans who live at the school: the school has limited accommodations for the students; however, some students have been disowned by families, and they remain at the school, with their new families. In the photo you can see one of our volunteers, Sonia, from Barcelona, Spain, while she visits this school for disabled children. A few other volunteers went to a different school for disabled children as well in another area in Delhi NCR, while two volunteers went to their new volunteering placement in an all-girls' orphanage. This evening, five of the volunteers went with one of the host family's children to the local market in Delhi NCR, where they bought the children some new clothes and ice cream! One of the children, who is nine years old, helped a volunteer get alterations to her new saree as well, which she bought here in India! It was a nice day, though bittersweet to say "farewell" to one of our volunteers.